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Easements, laterals and Siamese splits – oh my!

Yesterday was a fun scrambly educational real estate day. Sometimes real estate can feel repetitive –

here’s a house. yes it is old. it needs repairs. negotiate. close. hand-off keys. done. rinse. repeat.

BUT Occasionally, there are tidbits of information or technicalities that we find fascinating and get us excited about learning something new in real estate.

Yesterday we were trying to negotiate an offer for a client when we discovered that the house had a sewer line that ran through the lot behind it. Looking at plot maps, quick calls to the City of Portland, conference calls with our favorite sewer expert – all trying to find and answer to the question “what would happen if the easement was revoked?” or “what would happen if the empty lot behind was sold to a developer?”. In all of this research we discovered a few things:

  1. There are no sewer lines on the South side of Lone Fir Pioneer Cemetery. Not-a-one on that stretch of SE Morrison.
  2. The city still allows for a special type of party sewer. It’s called a Siamese Split! Our new favorite plumbing term for sure. A Siamese Split occurs when 2 or more properties require easements and make a shared connection before connecting to the city main. Here’s an example of a new one that was approved just a few years ago. See the 2 diagonal lines connecting to the 3rd straight line before it even gets to the lateral at the main line? Yep. That’s a Siamese Split folks.  
  3. Not all easements are permanent. There are actually 2 types of Easements – non-revokable and revokable. We tend to think that all easements should be permanent, as they allow for basic needs of a home but that is not always true. Read the easement statements carefully!
  4. The City of Portland has a non-conforming sewer hotline AND they actually answer the phone. Here’s their number: 503-823-7869. Libby is the best.

While showing property is nice of course, it is the research we think is the most important. And the most fun.

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